How Do I Love My Friends Who Are Slow About Moving into a New Normal?
After our tremendous season of collective grief and pain, it feels nearly impossible to find a “new normal.” Fear became second nature to many of us over the past year and half. And it only makes sense that learning to love one another and ourselves in the midst of this fear will be a challenge.
What does it look like to show love and compassion to those—including ourselves—who are afraid to move into post-Covid life in the States?
There are no greater words than those of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians to help us walk in love with those who live in fear: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5 NIV).
Love is patient:
Part of loving others, and ourselves, in this cultural moment is choosing patience. Be patient with others as they might need more time than you to step into this new phase of post-pandemic life. Some folks may not be comfortable without a mask, while others may find it easy to take it off. Friends may wrestle with those who refuse to get vaccinated, while others may still choose to keep their distance even after they have received the vaccine. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of caution, keep in mind that others may not see things the same way you do. Patience protects us from a growing spirit of irritation when another person’s comfort level in this “new normal” is not the same as ours. Patience gives space for different choices and allows for relational peace in the midst of them.
Love is kind:
While patience allows us to give space to the different choices people are making post-pandemic, kindness will help us navigate relationships within those choices. Choosing to respond in compassion (what Desmond Tutu calls “seeing with a God’s eye view”)—in light of the decisions those around us are making in their new normal—will convey love, even in places of disagreement. As we hold on to our own convictions, we can listen with kindness to others as they discuss their own convictions, feelings, and fears. Practicing kindness in what we say and how we say it are essential in helping ourselves and others move forward in the days to come.
Love doesn’t envy or boast and isn’t proud:
Facing our own fears, as well as the fears of those around us, can be difficult. When we see someone who is struggling with fear, it can be easy to be quick with judgments, solutions, or simple fixes. We can too easily dismiss the fears of another, especially if it seems irrational to us. On the other hand, it can be easy to envy those who seem unaffected in the ways that we are afraid. Humbling ourselves in love enables us to enter into our anxiety and the anxiety of others in a way that is helpful and caring instead of dismissive and hurtful.
Love doesn’t dishonor others:
As we all attempt to find our way after the world has been completely flipped upside down, honoring others, their choices, and how they are feeling in the aftershock of this past year is a way to love them through this. Not seeking our own agenda or desires, choosing to be slow to anger, and refusing to keep records of the wrongs done against us will display love in a time where fear is high and opinions are divided. Let us honor each other and the fear we have carried by showing each other love.
As you re-enter the life you once knew, or this new version of it, pay attention to the ways you and those around you are in need of love, especially in our fears. The world is longing for patience, kindness, humility and honor. This is our moment to practice love.
Pastors Brian From and Aubrey Sampson host The Common Good podcast Monday through Friday from 4 to 6pm (CT) on AM1160 Hope for Your Life. Aubrey is the author of The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament and the upcoming Known: How Believing Who God Says You Are Changes Everything. Brian leads Four Corners Community Church in Darian, Illinois. They are passionate about civility, compassion, and unity in a divided world.
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